5-year-old Macs not too old for OS X Mavericks

As expected, Apple drops iPhone 3GS from the iOS 7 supported list

The new OS X Mavericks will run on the same set of Mac desktops and notebooks able to handle the current OS X Mountain Lion, but iOS 7 dropped support for iPhone 3GS, the 2009 smartphone supported by the current iOS 6.

OS X 10.9, aka Mavericks -- Apple's first non-cat nickname for a version of the operating system -- will support the same Macs as 2012's Mountain Lion, according to a developer with access to the Mavericks preview.

Computerworld confirmed the developer's account.

The only difference between the Mountain Lion and Mavericks lists was a slightly more specific reference to eligible 13-in. MacBook Pro laptops in Mavericks' list. While Mountain Lion supported all MacBook Pro models -- 13-in., 15-in. and the discontinued 17-in. -- made from mid- to late-2007, Mavericks called out only mid-2009 and later 13-in. MacBook Pro notebooks.

Apple has regularly trimmed its OS X supported hardware list, dumping what it considers old as it adds features that either won't run on the aging machines, or more likely, will run poorly. But like Microsoft -- whose Windows 8 runs on the same hardware as the three-year-older Windows 7 -- Apple has probably found that older Macs are simply "good enough" for the upgrade.

In some cases, crossing off older Macs has had major implications for customers, and thus Apple's ability to keep pushing as many as possible to the newest OS X. The best example: Snow Leopard. That 2009 operating system has resisted retirement in large part because it was the last that let users run PowerPC applications.

According to Web analytics firm Net Applications, Snow Leopard powered 25% of all Macs that went online in May, the same percentage as ran 2011's Lion, and its decline, while consistent, has been slow.

By the end of the year, Snow Leopard will still account for 1 in 5 Macs.

While OS X system requirements stayed stable, those for iOS showed Apple's typical practice of dropping the oldest still-supported devices from the next version's list.

Apple said iOS 7 will run on the iPhone 4, 4S and 5; the iPad 2, the two 2012 models of the Retina-equipped iPad and the iPad Mini; and last year's fifth-generation iPod Touch. Missing from that list were the iPhone 3GS and fourth-generation iPod Touch, both which can run the still-current iOS 6.

Previews of OS X Mavericks and iOS 7 are now available to developers, with final versions slated to ship this fall, Apple said Monday.

This article, 5-year-old Macs not too old for OS X Mavericks, was originally published at Computerworld.com.

Gregg Keizer covers Microsoft, security issues, Apple, Web browsers and general technology breaking news for Computerworld. Follow Gregg on Twitter at  @gkeizer, on Google+ or subscribe to Gregg's RSS feed . His email address is gkeizer@computerworld.com.

See more by Gregg Keizer on Computerworld.com.

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